Pentecost Friday: walking away

The Gospel in today’s Mass in the Extraordinary Form, by which we celebrate the Octave of Pentecost, relates how the Lord healed the paralytic in Luke 5: 17-26:

At that time, it came to pass on one of the days, that Jesus sat teaching. And there were Pharisees and teachers of the Law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee and Judea and out of Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And behold, some men were carrying upon a pallet a man who was paralyzed, and they were trying to bring him in and to lay him before Him. And as they found no way of bringing him in, because of the crowd, they went up onto the roof and lowered him through the tiles, with his pallet, into the midst before Jesus. And seeing their faith, He said, Man, your sins are forgiven you. And the Scribes and Pharisees began to argue, saying, Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God only? But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, answered and said to them, Why are you arguing in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins – He said to the paralytic – I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go to your house. And immediately he arose before them, took up what he had been lying on, and went away to his house, glorifying God. And astonishment seized upon them all, and they glorified god and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen wonderful things today.

St. Ambrose (+397) has this commentary:

But the Lord, wanting to save sinners, shows himself to be God both by his knowledge of secrets and by the wonder of his actions.  He adds.  “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’, or to say, ‘Rise and walk”‘”  In this passage he shows the full likeness of the resurrection.  Alongside of healing the wounds of body and mind, he also forgives the sins of the spirits, removes the weakness of the flesh, and this heals the whole person.  It is a great thing to forgive people’s sins – who can forgive sins, but God alone?  For God also forgives through those to whom He has given the power of forgiveness.  Yet it is far more diving to give resurrection to bodies, since the Lord himself is the resurrection.  (Exp Luca 5.12-13)

And then:

What is this bed/pallet which he [the paralytic] is commanded to take up, as he is told to rise?  It is the same bed which was washed by David ever night, the bed of pain on which our soul lay sick with cruel torment of conscience.  But if anyone has acted according to Christ’s teaching, it is already not a bed of pain but of repose.  Indeed, though the compassion of the Lord, who turns for us the sleep of death into the grace of delight, that which was death begins to be repose.  Not only is he ordered to take up his bed, but also to go home to his house, that is, to return to Paradise. That is our true home which first fostered man, lost not lawfully, but by deceit.  Therefore, rightfully is the home restored, since he who would abolish the obligation of deceit and reform the law has come.  (Exp Luca 5.14)

Here is what you can walk away with.

Christ, by simple contact, causes the paralytic man to rise up.

This is a demonstration and foreshadowing that He alone is the Resurrection.

In a similar way, the Church causes us to rise when we are paralyzed in our sins.

Your examination of conscience and the confessional can be your palette from which you arise, freed from sorrow, bondage, and new life.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Patristiblogging and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. rcesq2 says:

    Thanks, Father, for these wonderful nuggets of Biblical commentary by St. Ambrose. Please keep them coming! And thanks, too, for the beautiful mosaics in this post. Where are they from?

  2. jmvbxx says:

    Is there a podcast for today (from the 2008 series)?

  3. BarefootPilgrim says:

    It also reminds me of the connection between the wedding at Cana and the Eucharist. Jesus did a visible miracle at the wedding (water –>wine). Later, He did an invisible miracle in the upper room (wine –> Blood). Which was easier? But so that we could believe, He did the visible miracle first!

  4. Robert_H says:

    Thanks Father.

    You forgot:


Comments are closed.